18th Century Fashion Show at Knox’s Headquarters


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Tiffanie Downs, from Pine Bush, portraying an upper class lady in her silk gown (provided).On Saturday, August 13th from 5 to 7 pm, Knox’s Headquarters presents a fashion show of 18th century civilian and military clothing.

Visitors will see elegant ladies gowns of silk, gentlemen officer wear and the patched and worn garments of the lesser sort. Learn who would have worn the clothing, why it is constructed in that manner, and what function it served. Accompanying the clothing display will be a power point demonstration and narrator describing the portraits and research behind the gowns. Staff members of the New Windsor Cantonment and Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Sites have painstakingly researched and constructed by hand reproductions of period clothing.

A significant number of Revolutionary War era ladies gowns still do exist, escaping the fate of some that were taken apart to provide fabric to re-upholster 18th century furniture or been destroyed while being worn as a costume during the Victorian era. Fancy embroidered waistcoats and fine tailored jackets worn by gentlemen also survive in fairly significant amounts, but what of the clothing worn by the common people. In all but very rare cases, the garments were worn until they fell apart and then the remaining fabric was used to make other things or for patching. In the early 19th century, linen rags were gathered by pickers who sold the bundles to paper makers.

The best information on what was worn by everyday people comes from so-called runaway ads. Posted by slave owners, those still due services from indentured servants and military officials looking for deserters, these detailed descriptions of the clothing worn by fleeing individuals was intended to aid in their apprehension, but they have also proved invaluable to students of this time period. Besides admiring the beautifully wrought garments learn what research and special skills were necessary to replicate them.

Light refreshments will be served and the program is free. Contact New Windsor Cantonment staff at (845) 561-1765 for more information. Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site is part of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. The Palisades Interstate Park Commission administers 29 park, parkways and historic sites for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in New York as well as the Palisades Interstate Park and parkway in New Jersey. For more information about New York State parks and historic sites, click here.

Photo: Tiffanie Downs, from Pine Bush, portraying an upper class lady in her silk gown (provided).

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